The floral market is a $100B industry globally. Floriculture being one of the most competitive niches in the world, it truly is the survival of the fittest. In fact, it’s so difficult to succeed in this particular market that despite its popularity as a business, and opportunity for growth, people rarely, if ever, quit their day jobs and opt to start-up a floral business from scratch – that too without any formal training.
But that’s precisely what florist partners, and friends, Iverina and Sheau Chyn did.
Retail merchandisers and corporate workers by profession, both Ina and Shea left their respective jobs to look for something more meaningful for themselves. They found their calling in flowers and floriculture.
While Ina had some prior experience in the industry, having worked with other florists when she quit her job, it was Shea who started from the very first stair, steadily climbing upwards to discover her passion for pretty little blooms.
After seeking florist courses in Hong Kong, Shea travelled to London with her business partner to partake in both Basic and Advanced Floral Training courses, in order to increase her knowledge and know-how about the multi-billion dollar industry they wanted to dive into.
Their combined experiences in London, and their journey from running a small home based floral studio to owning one of the most profitable, up and coming floral boutiques in Singapore, has been nothing short of interesting and eventful.
With out-of-the-box aesthetic style, a fine eye for detailing and an artistic inclination that puts many to shame, Ina and Shea and their floral creations set them apart in rooms full of renowned florists from around the world.
In a particularly insightful conversation, these floral partners extraordinaire share with us some of the more seemingly insignificant business decisions which have enormous impacts.
Learn and then Learn Some More
A corporate worker has some savings, a keen interest in business and a desire to step out of the traditional 9-5 in order to accomplish something for themselves. In 99% of such scenarios, the end result is the same – the beginnings of a small business.
However, often times, the small business is not quite as well-thought out as it needs to be in order to be sustainable and successful long-term.
According to master florists Ina and Shea, wanting to establish something for themselves and some financial resources isn’t enough. You have to know the ins and outs of what you want to do before you actually begin working towards it.
Both entrepreneurs began their journey by first taking industry specific courses from different places to increase their knowledge. Then they worked out the nitty-gritty of running a business in this particular niche before establishing their exclusive home studio.
It’s all about learning the basics, the advanced stuff, and then continuing to learn along the way till you reach a point where you are satisfied with your success, and the trajectory your business seems to follow. Till then, it’s learning, and learning some more.
Are Brick & Mortar stores necessary?
‘People will tell you, you don’t need a shop, all you need is a website – that’s not true. Having a physical store is still very important … ever since we’ve had one, we do more retail (selling) and have more walk-ins.’
Having worked six whole months from their home studio, and making a name for themselves within their close knit community, the dynamic floral duo had enough capital to put together and open up their very own retail store which they feel is key to growing a brand.
Opening your own retail space may attract criticism and well-meaning advice from associates who think they know better. While it’s important to openly consider suggestions, business owners should also look at their short and long term goals to decide if a retail space is worth their investment. Ina.Shea’s retail space was a crucial milestone for them due to their line up of projects.
As much as the world has moved in the digital direction, a website and well-managed Instagram profile will only do so much. A retail studio is a great way to expand your brand if it’s within your business’ financial means. Physical presence for your business can help to cement a loyal consumer base by giving you more opportunities to interact with your customers – which brings us to their next takeaway lesson:
It’s Not Customer Selling, its Consumer Relationship Building
‘…encourage more communication with the customers’
When someone offers you sound advice, especially pertaining to your own business within the same industry – you listen. And this, this is sound advice.
Ina and Shea feel very strongly about differentiating between conventional customer selling where all one focuses on is securing a sale and building, or even curating lasting consumer relationships for loyalty and longevity.
A brick and mortar store allows more foot fall and drives more traffic to your business. It encourages walk-ins to drop buy and take a look at the new store round the block and it gives the owners the opportunity to communicate freely with their target audience. Just by being receptive towards customers, you can build their trust in your and your brand. Not only that, but you can also increase your profitability exponentially because loyal customers – especially those who become more like friends – means that not only have you secured yourself recurring consumers for a lifetime, you also have customers who will bring in a huge amount of new business through word of mouth advertising and referrals. And we all know that word-of-mouth advertising is still the most effective marketing strategy that has ever existed.
Though by their own admission, INA SHEA is still in its developing stages, we’d say they’re definitely moving in the right direction. So for all you florists and floral enthusiasts that are venturing into the industry, try and learn a thing or two from the industry experts who are taking this particular niche by storm. Better yet, if you’re around Upper Thomson Road, Singapore, drop in and say hi!
Check out other merchant stories on the CandyBar blog for more inspiration.